BW Gas: Leading by listening

-- FROM THE FULL PICTURE MAGAZINE -- "Kongsberg listens to us." – Viggo Bjørnsgaard, Assistant Director, Head of Newbuilding Dept., BW Gas

For a global shipping company with a strong reputation for quality, BW Gas is one of the most watched gas carriers in the business. With the industry facing tough questions, many are looking to BW Gas to lead the way.

The emergence of new technologies has created some debate in the LNG industry: What is the best propulsion system for LNG carriers? Most LNG carriers run on steam turbine engines, a proven system with a good track record. With the emergence of new engine and gas handling technologies, engine makers are now offering alternative systems: Dual-Fuel Diesel Electric (four-stroke) engines and a more conventional two-stroke diesel engine equipped with a reliquefaction plant.

Customers' positive influence

According to Viggo Bjørnsgaard, Assistant Director, Head of Newbuilding Department, BW Gas, both DFDE and two stroke diesel engines are more fuel-efficient and powerful than steam turbines, but they require far more maintenance. "Charterers want redundancy, and that requires two or more diesel engines," he says. "That adds up to a lot of moving parts, and parts wear down."

With an ambitious newbuilding programme now under way, BW Gas is following developments in propulsion systems closely, but Bjørnsgaard points out that the decision ultimately belongs to the charterer, not the shipowners. "We listen to our customers, and develop solutions in line with their expectations," he says.

Indeed, BW Gas expects the same level of services from its own suppliers – including Kongsberg. This long-term relationship has resulted in several innovative products, including Kongsberg's radar level gauging tool, which was developed in close cooperation with BW Gas. "Like BW Gas, Kongsberg understands that their success depends not only on technical expertise, but working closely with customers over time," says Bjørnsgaard. "They listen to us."